Day 45 miles: 688.0 – 706.5

The Stealth campsite at Midway Church was a great camping spot, and it’s hard to beat a place with a protected roof and power. I got a great nights sleep too in the 60 degree weather, with my belly full and my tired body bundled up nicely in a gently swaying hammock.

It did rain a little lastnight, not much, but just enough to keep the air humid and to keep the clothes on the line from drying. That made getting dressed into my soaked daytime clothes a fridged chore. Nothing seemed any dryer from when I hung my clothes up lastnight, and now everything was very cold from the blowing night air. Stuck with no other options, I changed into my cold wet clothes as quickly as I could, and then I did a little bouncing dance to warm things up so I could focus on tearing down camp.

Gray Beard got out of his van and was set to hike by 7am, while Mickey and I quickly finished taking down camp. After saying farewell to Gray Beard, we drove the van north 15 miles to New Home Baptist Church to start our miles back south to Midway Church. We new that New Home was a good spot to leave the van from the map app, plus we had all driven there to get permission lastnight.

It was raining when we parked the van, so we put on our rain gear right away. Mickey has hiked half of the AT and has nice rain gear, I have no experience and a gas station poncho, so guess who stayed dryer today? (Yeah, not me). It rained hard for about the first hour, then fluctuated from light to heavy rain all morning. At about 11am we saw a church with a big overhang out front (just 100 yards off the trail) that looked like a great place to rest at, so we headed there to get out of the rain. Just as we took our packs off, Mickey saw Gray Beard pass us on the trail, and we both started hollering his name. Gray Beard is a fast hiker (almost 3mph), so with each second that passed he was less likely to hear us over the pouring rain. This was a real problem because Mickey had the van keys that he would need in order to pick us up at the other end of the 15 miles. Mickey took off running after him hollering his name, while I tried to call him on his phone, to no avail. Luckily, Mickey finally got within ear shot of Gray Beard and yelled for him to stop, which he finally heard. Once they both got to the church with the overhang, we laughed about what could have happened, but also learned not to leave the trail until the key swap was done. We sat for a long 15 minute break for the rain to die down, then pressed on our own ways.

The rest of the day had mostly clear skys with easy hiking (other than wet feet) and we all met at the Midway church around 3:30pm. Since it was early, we talked about doing a few more miles now to get a jump on tomorrow’s 19 miles, since the forecast is rain all day tomorrow. It was all agreed apon to knock out 3.8 more miles this afternoon to guarantee we keep to the schedule, and if the weather is good tomorrow, we will push further then to get ahead.

By 5:30pm, we had all of todays (and part of tomorrows) miles done, and we finally got to rest at the benches behind New Home Church. It was nice to take a load off and Pastor Chris told us to help ourselves to the fellowship hall for snacks, outlets and bathrooms! The snacks were a full selection of chips, soda, cake, donuts, nuts, fruit, you name it, he said we could eat it! It was stocked so well because “Campers on a Mission” were there building a new section of church and that was their break area. In the fellowship hall, we got to meet a few of the missionaries and chat with them for awhile about life on the trail, and then we finally set up for bed around 8pm. I really do feel spoiled at this point with all the amazing trail angels we have meet this week, and the hospitality of the Baptist Church’s along this road march. It’s enough to forget about the rain and cold when your morale is high and your is belly full :).

We only have one more full day of road marching ahead of us before entering the Aucilla Wildlife Management Area (WMA). It has been flooded through there for the folks on the trail ahead of us, and I’m guessing that the past week of rain hasn’t helped trail conditions any. We will see what’s instore for us soon.

sitting under the overhang of a church, letting the storm pass

Gray Beard and his trash bag skirt walking out of the rain

the view while taking a break under a tree.

two chickens came to inspect our camp while we were packing up 🙂

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